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GB-PDO-01312 | Date of Preparation: November 2020

What is bladder cancer?1,2

The information provided on this site is general education information and does not take the place of your healthcare professional’s advice. Please always follow your healthcare professional’s instructions and talk with him/her about any questions or problems you have regarding your health and treatment

Bladder cancer is where a growth of abnormal tissue, known as a tumour, develops in the bladder lining. In some cases, the tumour spreads into the bladder muscle.

Who gets it?2

Bladder cancer usually takes a long time to develop, with most people with bladder cancer being over 60 years old. More men than women get bladder cancer, which may be due to a number of different risk factors.

What are the risk factors?2,3

It is not known what causes bladder cancer, but there are a number of different risk factors associated. A risk factor is anything that increases your risk of getting the disease, and some of the risk factors associated with bladder cancer are:

  • A person’s risk of developing cancer depends on many factors, including age, genetics, and exposure to risk factors. Your healthcare professional will be able to discuss those with you

Symptoms of bladder cancer4

Common symptoms can include:

Blood in the urine is the most common symptom

Problems with passing urine

(e.g. frequent, pain, urgency)

Stages of bladder cancer

The stage of cancer means how big the cancer is and whether it has spread. Knowing the stage helps your doctor decide which treatment you need.

The most common way that doctors stage bladder cancer is the TNM staging system.5

  stands for tumour and describes the size of the tumour and whether it has invaded nearby tissue.

  stands for nodes and if the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes.

  stands for metastasis and describes if the cancer has spread to a different part of the body.

Your doctor may also use the terms non invasive (early), invasive or advanced bladder cancer.5

Early (non muscle invasive) bladder cancer – cancer cells are only in the bladder’s inner lining.6

Invasive/muscle invasive bladder cancer – cancer has spread into or through the muscle layer of the bladder.7

Advanced bladder cancer – locally advanced bladder cancer is when the cancer has grown through the bladder wall or has spread to the lymph nodes but no further. Advanced bladder cancer means that the cancer has spread outside the bladder.2

Treating locally advanced and metastatic bladder cancer

Surgery, also known as a radical cystectomy – This is removal of the bladder and the tissue which holds the cancer cells8,9

Radiotherapy – Uses high-energy rays to destroy cancer cells. It is sometimes used instead of surgery.9,10

Chemotherapy – Uses anti-cancer drugs to destroy cancer cells.11 Chemotherapy is used for advanced bladder cancer to help shrink the tumour and reduce the chance of it coming back.9,12

Immunotherapies – Immunotherapies are a group of drugs that work with the body’s immune system, helping it to identify and destroy cancer cells.9,13

Further information

There is more to read about bladder cancer, and you can find out more information at the following websites:

Cancer Research UK

Macmillan Cancer

Fight Bladder Cancer


  1. Mayo Clinic. Hodgkin's lymphoma (Hodgkin's disease). Available at:
  2. Macmillan Cancer Support. Hodgkin lymphoma (HL). Available at:
  3. Macmillan Cancer Support. Causes and risk factors of Hodgkin lymphoma. Available at:
  4. Macmillan Cancer Support. Treating lymphoma. Available at:
  5. Macmillan Cancer Support. Hodgkin Lymphoma (HL). Available at:
  6. Cancer Research UK. Immunotherapy. Available at:
  7. Cancer Research UK. Stem cell and bone marrow transplants. Available at:
  8. Lymphoma Foundation. Getting the facts Hodgkin Lymphoma: Relapsed/Refractory. Available at:

Supporting documentation

KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab)

Summary of Product Characteristics | Patient Information Leaflet

GB-PDO-01247 | Date of Preparation: October 2020